Skip to main content

Dicken-Statham Family Papers

Identifier: MA.00268

Scope and Contents

Compact in size but broad in content, the Dicken-Statham Family Papers allow a researcher to travel through almost 200 years in the life of one family and to experience something of major historical events through the eyes of participants and witnesses.

The papers begin in 1828 with documentation of William Stephen Dicken’s medical education, his employment with the “United East India Company,” and his voyage to India. He departed England in May 1829 and arrived in Calcutta in November. It was the start of a thirty-year career as a surgeon in India. The papers include documentation of the historical events Dicken witnessed and participated in as well as an account of the specific work he did both as a surgeon and as an inspector of hospitals and jails.

The collection has papers relating in particular to W.S. Dicken’s youngest child, Florence, and her husband and children. Florence Statham’s series features her memoir – a piece of writing that describes what life could be like for women during the second half of the 19th century. It is a detailed account of her life after she left India with her mother in 1860 at the age of four, starting with a family group living together in England (except for W.S. Dicken, who died in India in 1861) but – as the oldest children married and started their own families – evolving into a peripatetic life with her widowed mother among relatives and friends, and sometimes in other countries. Florence chose to marry late (for her era), but she had six children with her husband, Henry Heathcote Statham, whose materials in the collection deal especially with aspects of his long career as an architect, a writer and editor, and a musician. His daughter Irene’s memoir adds a personal view.

All of the Statham children but one, Maud, have a series with at least modest documentation of their lives. For two of the children, Noel and Arthur, the documentation is perhaps necessarily brief as they died as young men in World War I, one near Baghdad and one in France. Heathcote Dicken Statham’s series has documentation of his long career as a musician, especially in his work as organist of the Norwich Cathedral. Mary Statham, his wife, has a series that documents in particular her Wrey family in photographs, journals, and correspondence.

Gilbert Statham’s memoir features prominently in his series, especially with its details of his life in the Indian Police after World War I. The series for his sister Irene and her husband Cuthbert Grasemann illustrate English life -- at work and play -- during the first half of the 20th century.

As indicated above, Noel and Arthur Statham both have series that end in early 1917 with their deaths in battle. There is a significant portion of wartime correspondence from both men, especially from Noel to his mother. Arthur is also remembered through a teenaged journal kept during a holiday.

Michael Statham – donor and only grandchild of Florence and Heathcote Statham – is represented with a memoir that describes his life as the child of two professional musicians and his own journey to finding a career in librarianship and as a poet. The collection also contains copies of many of his poems.


  • Creation: 1828-2014


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Dicken-Statham Family Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Dicken-Statham Family Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

The Dicken-Statham Family Papers contain correspondence, photographs, journals, and other unique materials that document the family's history in Great Britain and India for nearly two centuries and provide a view of the way a family evolves over time in response to historical events and societal changes. Major figures in the collection include:

William Stephens Dicken (1804-1861): Dicken was born at Witheridge, Devon, England, in 1804 to Reverend Perry and Mary Dicken. From 1814-1818 he attended Blundell’s School (in Devon, England; the online register for the school suggest that it was a family tradition, with ten members of his extended family attending the school). He studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, graduating in the autumn of 1828. By the end of the following year he was Assistant Surgeon of the United East Trading Company. He sailed to India in 1829 and there rose through the ranks of the medical establishment, ultimately becoming the Deputy General Inspector of Hospitals for the East India; overall, Dicken was a surgeon in the Bengal Medical Staff for more than thirty years. He was Chief of the Medical Staff with the Ghurka Force that recaptured Gorahkpur in 1857 and fought in the final siege at Lucknow in March, 1858. In 1833 he married Catherine Lamb Popham, daughter of Captain Joseph Popham of the Royal Navy; the couple had eleven children. He died on December 14, 1861. Florence Elizabeth Dicken Statham (1856-1938): Born in Patna, India, Florence Statham was the youngest child of William Stephens Dicken and Catherine Popham Dicken. As recounted in Florence’s memoir in the collection, her early recollections of India were few, although the first four years of her life were spent there. Her mother left India with her at the close of 1860 and returned to England to live with the older Dicken children. Mrs. Dicken was soon a widow, and Florence’s memoirs describe the straitened circumstances that required mother and daughter to live among many relatives for relatively short periods of time. During the first years back in England, Florence attended the newly established Cheltenham Ladies’ College, where she was the youngest pupil. Florence had a gift for music and her education included piano and voice studies; the latter study included lessons with Manuel Garcia, the famous singing teacher (her grandson described her as an “accomplished amateur contralto”). Florence performed on many public occasions but found it difficult to achieve the “definite work to do and some object in life” that her memoir acknowledges she wanted. Florence met Henry Heathcote Statham when she was 18, but the couple didn’t see each other for a decade and only became engaged in early 1885, and married in early 1887. The couple had six children, Heathcote, Gilbert, Irene, Noel, Arthur, and Maud. Around 1910 Florence wrote a children's book, "Flix and Flox," a copy of which is in the Archives and Special Collections. Two of Florence’s sons, Noel and Arthur, were killed three months apart in World War I. Henry Heathcote Statham (1839-1924): The son of Henry Heathcote and Irene Horner Statham, “H.H.S.” (as he is identified in some publications), was born in Liverpool. He was educated at the Liverpool Collegiate Institution, where he learned to play the school’s organ outside of class hours, the start of a lifelong passion that included a knowledge of the mechanics of organs. A contributor to “The Builder” magazine in the 1860s, Statham moved to London to work at the magazine in the early 1870s. In 1883 he became the editor of the publication; he continued in that position until 1910 and subsequently worked for “The Architects’ and Builders’ Journal.” Statham was also the author of several books, including a popular textbook about architecture, “A Short Critical History of Architecture” (Batsford, 1912), “The Organ and its Position in Musical Art”; (Chapman and Hall, 1909), and Architecture Among the Poets (Batsford, 1898). His grandson, Michael Statham, also notes that “Statham was also a prolific writer on the arts, particularly music, and an experienced organist. He was for years organist of St. Jude's Church, Whitechapel, and a recitalist in the London area. His most important recitals were given on the Albert Hall organ on Sunday afternoons in successive summers starting in 1879.” Music was also an important part of family life – grandson Michael Statham writes that Henry Heathcote Statham “used to practice scales loudly on the piano before breakfast.” His daughter Irene’s manuscript memoir describes a complicated and exacting personality with wide interests and talents that continued through eight decades of life.

Heathcote Dicken Statham (1889-1973): Heathcote Statham, son of Florence and Heathcote Statham, was born in London where the family lived within walking distance of his father’s offices at “The Builder” magazine. Heathcote D. Statham attended prep-school at Reigate, and then entered St. Michael’s College (Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, England) an institution he remained involved with for the rest of his life. From 1905-1908, he attended Gresham’s School (Norfolk, England) as a music scholar. There, his music studies flourished under Geoffrey Shaw. After leaving Gresham’s School, Statham studied on an organ scholarship at Caius College, Cambridge. By early 1913, Statham was working as the organist of Calcutta Cathedral, St. Paul’s, in West Bengal, India, a position he held for five years. His next work was as organist for St. Michael’s College, where he had studied many years earlier. While at St. Michael’s, he continued his education, receiving his Cambridge Doctor of Music degree in 1923. From 1925-1927 he was the organist and choirmaster at St. Mary’s Church in Southampton; he was also conductor of the Southampton Philharmonic Society. In 1928, he became the organist of Norwich Cathedral. During those years he was also the conductor of the Norwich Philharmonic Society. He retired at age 77 but continued to be active in his profession in retirement. He died in 1973. The collection contains a detailed article about Heathcote Statham’s career by his son, Michael Statham, “Heathcote Statham (1889-1973): a Life in Music.”

Mary Claudine Wrey Statham (1886-1975): The daughter of Reverend Arthur Bourchier Wrey and Claudine Maud Twining, Mary Statham was born in the Torquay, Devon, England. Her first husband (whom she married in 1913), was Humphrey Richard Locke Lawrence, an officer in the 34th Sikh Pioneers, and the couple’s brief time together was spent with his regiment at Ambala, India. Lawrence died on December 30, 1915, on the S.S. "Persia" when it was torpedoed by the Germans during World War I. The widowed Mary Lawrence returned to England, where she earned income from giving piano lessons (she had been a pupil of Oscar Beringer). When her mother died, Mary returned to her family home in Torquay to help care for her father. It was there that she met Heathcote Dicken Statham, with whom she continued to study piano. The couple married in 1928. Son Michael Statham’s memoirs in the collection describe what it was like to grow up in an environment in which both parents regularly played pianos in different sections of the house. Mary Statham outlived her husband by only two years, dying in 1975.

Irene Statham Grasemann (1887-1978): Irene Grasemann, born in London, was the second child of Florence and Heathcote Statham. According to her nephew Michael Statham, “[Irene] was gifted as an artist and, as a young woman, had been a student at the Slade. Later, she taught art at a leading London girls’ school – the Francis Holland. Once married, however, her talents were rather overshadowed by those of her husband, Cuthbert Grasemann, who was effortlessly successful at a variety of activities… Nevertheless, she often said that she had had a very happy life.” Irene is the subject of many of Grasemann’s photographs in the collection, dating from early in their relationship throughout their life.

Cuthbert Grasemann (1890-1961): The son of Carl Edward and Ada Florence Grasemann, Cuthbert Grasemann, known as “Tabs,” was born in the London borough of Camden. He was educated at the Rugby School (Warwickshire, England) and Trinity College, Cambridge (a photograph of his well-appointed dormitory room is in the collection), and served with the Royal Engineers during World War I. He married Irene Statham in 1916. By profession Grasemann worked for the Southern Railway and then the Southern Region of British Railways as Public Relations Officer. His portion of the collection as well as evidence in other collections suggests someone with many interests, including boats, women’s fashions (some of his drawings are in the Victoria and Albert Museum), and photography. He was the author of several publications, including “English Channel Packet Boats” and “The ABC of Yachts" -- a copy of the latter is in the Archives and Special Collections. Grasemann was also a member of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers (from their website, “to promote excellence across all sectors of the fruit industry”) and the Worshipful Company of Stationers (“for the communications and content cndustries”). Grasemann retired from the railways in 1950 and died in 1961.

Gilbert Popham Statham (1891-1982): Gilbert Statham was the third child of Florence and Heathcote Statham. Like his siblings, Gilbert was born in London while his father worked for “The Builder” magazine. At the age of 8 he was sent to Ayshford School (Uffculme,Devonshire); he then attended Blundell’s School (the school many of his Dicken family members had attended), where he received a classical education that his memoir indicates he valued throughout his life At the age of 20 he took the exam for the Indian Police and became an Assistant Superintendent in the Indian Police. He spent eight years in India. His memoir details this period as well as a long trip home when he left the police. He then decided that he wanted to teach and went back to school to obtain a degree. In the early 1930s, he founded Sandrock Hall, a preparatory school in Hastings. When World War II began, the school had to move. The school didn’t survive the move for long, but Statham continued in what became 45 years of teaching, including positions at Belmont and Rossall Schools.

Noel Horner Statham (1892-1917): One of two sons of Florence and Heathcote Statham to fight and die in World War I, Noel Statham was born in London. He attended the Ayshford School (Uffculme, Devon, England), the King’s College School (Wimbledon, England), the University of Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium), and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the East Surry Regiment in mid-1913 and volunteered for service at the start of World War I. He went to India in late 1914 and chose to stay in active service instead of taking an offered staff appointment. In late 1916, he went to Iraq (then part of the Ottoman Empire) with the 4th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He fought in the Battle of the Hai Salient (where the Tigris River meets the Hai Canal, south of Baghdad) and died in combat on February 3, 1917. He is buried in Iraq in Amarah Cemetery.

Arthur Yates Statham (1897-1917): Like all his siblings, Arthur Statham, the youngest child of Florence and Heathcote Statham, was born in London. He attended the Wykeham Hall School in Lee-on-Solent (Lee on Solent, Hampshire, England) and Fettes College (Edinburgh, Scotland). He left school in July 1915 to train for fighting in World War I. By September 1916 he was serving as Signalling Lieutenant with the 9th Rifle Brigade with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders. He died on May 3, 1917, in the Third Battle of the Scarpe, a part of the Arras offensive. His body was never found – it was presumed buried by the Germans when they took the battlefield where he fell.

Michael Heathcote Wrey Statham (b. 1929): The only child of Heathcote and Mary Statham, and the only grandchild of Heathcote and Florence Statham, was born and raised in Norwich, England. His memoir vividly describes his childhood living in the Norwich Cathedral Close in a house filled with music and musicians. He studied music himself – an education evident in his article about his father for “Musical Opinion” (1982) -- but decided on a career in librarianship. He studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, and the University of London. From 1955-1982 he worked at the University of London Library, where he became Senior Assistant Librarian. He retired in 1982. He was also an examiner for the Library Association and an editor for the 20th-century volume of the “New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.” Michael Statham married Jennifer Lansdown (b. 1929, the daughter of Charles Millington and Elsie Gwendolen Ward Lansdown) in 1958.


5 Linear feet (3 records boxes, 1 archives box, 1 flat box, 1 oversized box, 1 tube)

Language of Materials



The Dicken-Statham Family Papers contain papers related to four generations of one British family, spanning their participation in historical events during the last decades of East India Company rule in India through life in England in the 1980s. Materials in the collection include official documents pertaining to service in the East India Company and during World War I; manuscript diaries; correspondence; photographs, professional materials, and genealogical charts. There are approximately 5 linear feet of material, and bulk dates are 1830-1930.


The Dicken-Statham Family Papers are arranged in 10 series:

  1. Series 1: William Stephens Dicken and Catherine Lamb Popham Dicken [circa 1828-1861]
  2. Series 2: Florence Elizabeth Dicken Statham [circa 1886-1938]
  3. Series 3: Henry Heathcote Statham [circa 1867-1920]
  4. Series 4: Heathcote Dicken Statham and Mary Claudine Wrey Statham [circa 1827-1985]
  5. Series 5: Gilbert Popham Statham [circa 1935-1982]
  6. Series 6: Irene Statham Grasemann and Cuthbert Grasemann [circa 1888-1985]
  7. Series 7: Noel Horner Statham [circa 1912-1917]
  8. Series 8: Arthur Yates Statham [circa 1912-1918]
  9. Series 9: Michael Heathcote Statham [circa 1965-2014]
  10. Series 10: Statham Family: Photographs and Miscellaneous Materials [circa 1910-1970]

Note that dates at series/sub-series levels reflect the approximate coverage of the material in the given series, not birth/death dates.

See notes at the beginning of each series for a description of contents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Dicken-Statham Family Papers were a gift of Michael H. W. Statham, who also provided important details for the biographical and item descriptions.

Related Materials

William Pitt and Sarah Archer Amherst Family Collection Lady Sarah Archer Amherst: India Diaries.

Processing Information

Processed by Margaret R. Dakin, Archives and Special Collections and Walker D. Boyle (AC 2013)

Margaret R. Dakin, Archives and Special Collections Specialist
2017 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299